The Poetry of Criticism: Horace, Epistles II, and Ars Poetica

By Ross S. Kilpatrick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The Literary Epistles

PATTERN AND COHERENCE

IF THE PRECEDING rationales for the epistles addressed to Augustus, Florus, and the Pisos are substantially correct, they hold further implications for understanding the poems as a group. The three persons addressed are all, presumably, vitally interested in poetry: Augustus as a patron, Julius Florus and the elder son of Piso or as aspiring practising poets. There is in each epistle a pervading emphasis on the crucial importance of self-criticism. As a group, the addressees represent a full spectrum of the Roman upper-class interested in literature: Augustus as one of Horace's own generation, and Florus a contemporary of his stepson, Tiberius; Piso seems younger yet, just becoming interested in writing drama. Florus, of course, has already reached the stage where Horace can be enthusiastic about some of his achievements: "prima feres hederae victricis praemia" ( Epistle 1.3-2.5).

Augustus ( Epistle 2.1) is tactfully petitioned to reassess his own standards as a patron of the arts and assist promising young poets once more, as Horace reminds him of his part in the success of Vergil and Varius, and the glories of their art. The rhetorical context of Horace's request is a shrewd analysis of the present literary scene in Rome, one in which we see everywhere a chaos of artistic standards and motivations. The universal infatuation with the stage was not something to which even

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The Poetry of Criticism: Horace, Epistles II, and Ars Poetica
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Chapter 1 the Epistle to Augustus Epistles 2.1 1
  • Chapter 2 the Epistle to Florus Epistle 2.2 15
  • Chapter 3 the Epistle to the Pisos Ars Poetica 32
  • Chapter 4 the Literary Epistles 55
  • TRANSLATIONS 59
  • Notes on the Text as Translated 84
  • Abbreviations 87
  • Notes 89
  • SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Horace, Epistles II and Ars Poetica 111
  • INDEX Ancient Authors 117
  • General Index 119
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